By Maureen Thaete | Assistant News Editor

The open air of the Greek Theater accentuated the mesmerizing, ambient quality of The War on Drugs’ driving rhythms and intricate guitar riffs. Touring for their latest album, “A Deeper Understanding,” the band stopped in Berkeley on Friday, Oct. 6.

The opening act of the evening was singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers, whose gentle, lyrical style was much softer than the headliners, but still an appropriate preface to the deeply hypnotic experience to come. The penultimate song in her set was a cover of the late Tom Petty’s “It’ll All Work Out,” probably the best of his work to match Bridgers’ quietly, emotional tone. Throughout the first act, attendance was pretty spotty, but by the time The War on Drugs took the stage, the theater was bustling. Anticipation built, and the crowd’s energy finally burst in response to the band as they broke into their first song of the evening, “In Chains.”

The band has a penchant for recording tracks that escalate into extended instrumental sections, creating the feeling of a jam session in each album. These jams definitely seemed to meet their full potential through live performance, and the crowd was more than eager to groove along with them. Tracks like “An Ocean Between the Waves” and “Nothing to Find” featured breakdowns that gave the crowd the opportunity to jam out, and they balanced out some of the slower, more hypnotic songs, like “Eyes to the Wind.”

Much like the progression of each song, frontman Adam Granduciel became livelier and more engaged with the crowd throughout the set. Towards the end, he shared with the audience his own history of living in Berkeley. He cheerfully regaled the crowd by talking about living on Telegraph and working on Shattuck. He ultimately made the show feel more personal by establishing that connection with the city.

In spite of a couple of technical glitches at the beginning of their set, the band remained in high spirits throughout the show, gifting the crowd with an energetic and engaging stage presence. After rectifying their gear trouble, the band became completely absorbed in each track they played. Granduciel and drummer Charlie Hall had especially enthralling  performances that seemed to delight the crowd the most. Their set included nearly all of the bands’s new album, “A Deeper Understanding.” Most of the other songs came from their previous album, “Lost In the Dream,” which was a critical success when it was released in 2014. Crowd favorites seemed to come from each album, and the energy throughout the show remained pretty consistent. A slight lull towards the end was revived by an incredible encore.

After a long, driving 15 song set, the Greek’s sound curfew limited the final encore to one song, but the band’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” was enough to stir the crowd into an enthusiastic frenzy fit for a finale.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*